Training camp without the comforts of his own home is new to Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green. It's also particularly necessary for him going into this season, his 11th in the NHL and first in Detroit after 10 seasons with the Washington Capitals.
Camping with the Red Wings in Traverse City, Mich., has given Green the opportunity to get to know his new teammates on a more personal basis without worrying about one of them rushing out of the rink to pick the kids up from school, or something similar.
Considering Green knew just about nobody on the team when he signed with the Red Wings, Traverse City has been a blessing for him.
"It's good to get away," he told NHL.com during a recent phone interview. "It creates an atmosphere where guys are forced to hang out with each other, get to know each other and gel, talk about our summers and whatnot. In Washington we'd go home to the comfort of our own home and we wouldn't hang out as much. It wasn't that we didn't want to, but we were comfortable in our own space. But it's been great so far. Just to get away here in Traverse City, go out to eat and obviously be at the rink, work out together, do the same thing on the same program, it's great."
Green said the only Red Wings player he had any type of prior relationship with is Darren Helm, and that's only from a handful of summer training sessions together.
That's why he felt strange when he got to Detroit in early September so he could get in some skates with his new teammates at Joe Louis Arena before they went to Traverse City for training camp.
"When I first went to the rink to meet the guys and skate, that was a shock," Green said. "Usually you know somebody, but I really didn't know anybody. It was sort of like a first day of school for me."
School is in session now, and as the days go by Green is learning more and more about the Red Wings' culture of winning.
Detroit has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs a record 24 consecutive seasons. The Red Wings signed Green to a three-year, $18 million contract July 1 to help them continue that streak.
He had 360 points in 575 games with the Capitals from 2005-15. Green had 35 points in 72 games last season despite a reduction in his role to No. 5 defenseman and power-play specialist. Green averaged 19:06 of ice time per game last season, the lowest since he played 15:29 per game in 2006-07.
"I've had a lot of fun here so far going through some of the systems stuff to try to understand so I can work into it and be creative within the system," he said. "But mostly it's about the mentality, the history. There is a mentality to win here. There is a reason why they are competitive every year here. There is a reason why they have the history they do with Stanley Cups. I could sense that right away."
Green has been going through a crash course in coach Jeff Blashill's systems, which are geared toward speed and a puck-possession style. Most coaches are implementing similar schemes, but every coach has a unique way of doing it.
Green knows that as well as any player in the NHL.
"In Washington I had six coaches in 10 years, so I'm sort of used to it," he said.
His Washington days are behind him now. The Red Wings plan to keep Blashill, and Green, around for a while. And Green plans to play a more significant role with the Red Wings this season than he did with the Capitals last season.
It should happen.
Green is penciled in to be in the Red Wings' top-four defense group this season with Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Danny DeKeyser. As long as he stays healthy, it would be shocking for him not to play 20 or more minutes per game.
"I hope so," he said. "I want to play more of a significant role. I'll do my very best to contribute as much as I can, bring leadership and do the things that need to be done on the ice that hopefully can contribute to winning hockey games. Really, I'm just here to gain the respect of the veteran players, this team, and become a legitimate Red Wing."